[translations idioma=”ES” url=”https://archives.rgnn.org/2014/04/14/serie-educacion-habilidades-comunicativas-para-educadores/”]
Under the motto, “Education is the key,” ROOSTERGNN is publishing a Special Series dedicated exclusively to one of the most important topics defining our society of today: Education. View the complete series here.

TARRAGONA, SPAIN. It never fails to thrill me when, at the beginning of each new semester, I see a group of students who want to be educators. Are they aware of the importance of their future work? What kind of world do they hope to create? Each brings their own story and they all converge in one singular space and time: our classroom. I’m a member of the Pedagogy Department in the School of Education and Psychology Sciences at the Universitat Rovira i Virgili.

We teach the subject Communication Skills to first-semester graduate students in Preschool and Primary Education, Pedagogy and Social Education. Each year, in the three groups that I teach, I have approximately 240 students. I run the numbers and think that, if each one of them becomes a teacher and has an average of 25 students…each year 6,000 lives would be indirectly influenced by what we discuss in class. I take this number very seriously, because I strongly believe education is the way to transform the world into a better place to live and to love.

divisiones, educadores

“If our definition of learning is closer to repetition and memorisation; if our definition of academic success is related only to exams and grades, it will be very difficult for us to share these ideas” | verymom

I’m aware of how outdated this idea might sound in a world where we value objectivity more than subjectivity, the latter often being considered annoying and uncomfortable. The emphasis that we put on the objective contents of formal education, moving emotions into second place when we construct the processes of teaching and learning, doesn’t stop us from objectifying the world – we stick to what we know. Or so we think. To prioritize content without developing the ability to create respectful and effective surroundings is, objectively, an exercise in excluding the unknown dimension: the management of emotions. Nevertheless, teachers must understand that their raw material is humanity – with all of its thoughts, dreams, hopes and challenges.

It’s impossible to develop communication skills based on respect without breaking the theme of an educational system that prioritises marks over experience, the final product over personalisation and competition over solidarity. Fundamental social skills like active listening, the ability to think critically, or the knowledge to make a complaint are essential to educators, no matter the context of their work. Combined with the development of other ideas and abilities, like the mastery of communicative tools in our modern world, the development of social skills can help the educator create learning environments that favour more meaningful interactions and that take more steps toward creativity.

Defining the work of an educator as the transmission of knowledge or the selection, creation, and use of educational materials is like building a house from the roof down. Our understanding – all of it – is influenced by how we view the world. Our vision of the world is conditioned, at least in part, by the prejudices that we hold. To admit that we have them is the first step toward opening ourselves up to new ways of thinking. You can spend years thinking that to teach is to transmit knowledge and to communicate is to transmit ideas. When you finally realise that a course is never finished until the students are the ones who – after what they have seen or heard, after what they have felt, after the relationships that they have built between the new and the baggage they brought with them – actually create something. Then you begin to understand that learning is a process, not an event: it never, ever ends.

Learning is, more than anything, a creative act, made up of the restoration of meanings and the elaboration of new ideas, new forms. If our definition of learning is closer to repetition and memorisation; if our definition of academic success is related only to exams and grades, it will be very difficult for us to share these ideas. As a teacher, I only begin to understand what really has happened in a class once I observe what the students write in their blogs, the videos they produce, the podcasts they record, and the comics they create. Més que Paraules unites these experiences in the method best for the number of students in a given semester. If we understand education as transmission, the course would be over after the lecture. But the truth is that the class is never over: we never stop learning, there’s always more to understand. For this reason, clinging to the content – ignoring, in the best of cases, or devaluing, in the worst of them, the emotional environment in which learning is created – is a fantasy that teachers shouldn’t allow themselves.

We’ve made significant progress in growing from an industrial society into an information-based society; relative progress in growing from an information-based society to a knowledge-based society; but we still haven’t built a society based on wisdom, in which all of the communication that we establish between human beings is established with compassion and mutual respect. The ability to address the topic of education from a social and communicative point-of-view implies an understanding of what education should offer so that students can live productive lives in both the short- and long-term.

And by “productive lives” I don’t refer to goods and services. My work is centered around positioning as non-negotiable the basic human right to a satisfactory and positive life. When we learn, as well as when we teach, we don’t use some representative system that’s distant from our way of living as a society. What we do is position ourselves in the world, expressing an orientation that is cultural, social, and historical. The educational designs of all teachers and their readiness to break conventions and innovate depends, among other things, on their openness to breaking conventions and discovering new ways to resolve educational dilemmas each day.

It’s possible that what we do in one little class can influence indirectly the lives of 6,000 people, all of different ages, each year. And it’s best that we do so through solidarity and respect than through competitiveness.

— Translation: Olivia Young.